Scenery

My roommate takes me
for a walk, or she takes the dog
for a walk. It doesn’t matter.
It’s the second night

we’ve walked each other,
or the dog walked us,
sore throat, brainy fog,
and this time can’t even find

the moon, obscured by houses.
We look anyway, together,
comparing bloom to doubt,
how one is sure, the other

grows, and leaves
crunch beneath as the dog
stops our walking
to pee, to leave another

thing behind. On Sunday
I watched the Niagara dump millions
of gallons into itself, mist rising
into something, nothing. The moon

loomed huge over the bridge
to America towing sunset’s lavender
bed but you can watch a thing die
before your eyes, or not at all–

the way, driving back from Canada
in heavy traffic, I tapped you
on the shoulder on the sky bridge
and said, look, here’s something,

one thing beautiful left, look,
and took the world’s last magnificent,
proffered blue and there, as a passenger,
you refused.

 

(originally published in The Knicknackery, 2018)

Forming a Habit of Light Jogging

I feel good about myself
for the first time in millennia.
I mean,

I’m running galaxies compared
to glacial workdays married
to a silver Hewlett-Packard.

Here’s the secret to love:
treat yourself like shit
until you find someone

who makes you not
treat yourself like shit (lotus
petals unfolding…)

There are worse pasts
than ones rooted in mud,
being one who never snorted

or crushed up little orange pills to
ride into the eternity of night. Each
darkness used to be forever. My feet

would walk last week’s scattered toenail clippings
in my small bedroom. Dad often said drinking water
flushes the poison out of your system. The light

of morning flushes each yesterday. Even my toilet,
now armed in the tank with self-cleansing blue
discus, reincarnates in purified clouds. But I am

half-lion, half-man, when sprinting Neil
Avenue, bleach seeping from skin
into my sensitive parts.

The rotation of running
makes me laundry-in-progress
inside this spinning rock. I won’t lie

and say I have forgotten each love
in all our small mutual failures,
how running through neighborhoods

caused us to stumble into intersections
like Flower & 7th or how, in sprinting
toward imaginary finish lines,

we never flung our bodies
through the atmosphere of believing
forever-is-our-rhododendron-garden. Instead

we’d gash our knees on concrete,
look into each other’s black eyes
and laugh, believing we may have fooled

ourselves for good this time. At home
we’d foam our cuts with hydrogen peroxide
from those cheap, brown, plastic bottles

and wonder why some wounds won’t bubble
while others form dwarf star whites
who sting, then fade, in time.

 

(originally published in The Indianapolis Review, Summer 2017)

Church

Before you had a name, you were a stranger
searching for one.

Gravel, asphalt, salt, and stone–
I pieced you together, a church from scratch,
your holiness in my uttered breaths
of limestone, mortar, love…

your tall steeple stabbed the sky.
I could hear clouds dissipate,
crows caw and congregate
in our mutual worship of you.

Maybe you never needed a name.

When you vanished, my heart
reconstructed itself with God’s rubble,
compounded from type-two plastic,
Coca-Cola cans, rubber bands…

I never learned your name. With my mouth,
my body aflame, your steeple burned.

Bricks and timber screened
the sky. The smoke and fade–

the gray, the fog– that
was your name.

 

(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)